JOHOR BARU: A Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer’s home-brewed syllabus to help his students master the Japanese language has borne fruit.
The high pass rate in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) has helped some of his students earn scholarships and even land jobs in Japan, and the university itself to be made a JLPT examination centre as well as a bridge for cultural exchange.
R. Kumaraguru, 51, spent two years studying and researching the test and the best approach for learning the language before implementing the syllabus in 2001.
“What takes students in other institutions 120 hours of learning to prepare for the first-level test can be done within 90 hours with my syllabus here in UTM,” he said in an interview on Sunday.
Of the 60 students who take up Japanese at the campus here on average yearly, 90% are able to pass the first level of the JLPT using the syllabus, he added.
Kumaraguru said five students had also achieved the highest proficiency level in the JLPT.
He pointed out that taking up the language as an elective subject has helped his students get scholarships and jobs.
“At least 35 have received scholarships for further education in Japan and 23 more secured jobs there,” he said, adding that some students were also hired by Japanese companies in Malaysia.
Thanks to the high pass rate, Kumaraguru’s application for UTM to be made one of the five JLPT examination centres in Malaysia was approved by the Japanese Embassy in 2011.
“When I needed help with classes, I decided to train two students who obtained the highest proficiency level as lecturers here,” he added.
Kumaraguru, who has a Masters in Comparative Linguistics from Tsukuba University in Japan, achieved another milestone when a memorandum of understanding was signed with his alma mater.
“Through the MoU, trainee teachers from that university are sent here for three weeks’ training,” he said, adding that two more Japanese institutions, namely Bunkyo University and Chuo University, were also collaborating with UTM.
He said the collaboration offered students a chance to communicate with and befriend Japanese people, helping in cultural exchange as well.